20 March 2010

Updating the Home Study

We are updating our Home Study because we have moved to CA. I would recommend not updating a HS unless you absolutely have to. Not letting the across-the-country drive slow us down, we completed forms and made copies of the various HS and Dossier documents and mailed them from Memphis TN to the agency in CA who is helping us with the update. We have found an adoption agency in CA (Across the World Adoption - ATWA), and a great social worker in the San Diego area was recommended to us.

I say don't update the HS unless absolutely needed for a couple of reasons.

#1. Updating it is state specific. CA requires a full HS redo (essentially repeating everything). Much of the info already with AWAA will carry over, but there are various forms that don't.......and then there's the finger printing. We both had to get finger printed because the background checks (all 3 - CA, FBI, and Dept of Justice) do NOT carry over from AWAA and must be redone. This has added $211 to our expenses total along with the $850 fee to ATWA. Our AWAA Family Coordinator will get everything. Needless to say, repeating everything is just a wee bit frustrating.

#2. Our USCIS case must be transferred from the Norfolk office to the San Diego office. That sounds simple, but we've heard it could take up to three weeks. This is required because our updated HS needs to go through the local USCIS office. From there, our update will go through the National Visa Center to the Embassy in Ethiopia. We have no idea how long this takes, but it doesn't sound short.

That's as far as we have discovered so far. We'll keep the updates coming as we figure out the extent of the HS update.

11 March 2010

Another Adoption Hurdle

Our adoption adventure continues, and we are as excited today as we were in October when we began this journey. We completed the mountain of paperwork in near-record time (19 wks 1 day), and our formal adoption application arrived in Ethiopia two weeks ago. We are in the early stages of updating our Home Study now that we’ve moved to California for my command tour. We are still hopeful to have our son by the end of the year.

Two days ago the Ethiopian government changed their international adoption process that has thrown us a curve ball we weren’t expecting. The Ethiopian government now requires adoptive parents to personally appear in court to testify to their desire to adopt the child. Before this change, an adoption agency representative (as designated with a power of attorney) would represent the adoptive family in court. While we will meet our child when we’re in country for the court date, we cannot bring him home then. We must travel back to Ethiopia to get him – probably 8-12 weeks after the court date. The reason for the time delay between the court date and picking up our child is to allow time for the government to complete all of the required paperwork and investigations.

The added travel to Ethiopia is the reason for this posting. This will add around $5,000 to our overall expense. As I posted earlier for prospective adoptive families, our expenses are right on schedule with AWAA's estimate. I think this recent change will put the overall expense around $35,000. If my schedule allows, we are planning on both of us traveling to pick up our son. For families considering Ethiopia (or who just joined the program), the expense obviously is reduced if only one parent travels to pick up the child - which is allowed.

As you may have noticed at the top right of our web site, we partnered with a fair trade coffee company months ago – Just Love Coffee – as a fundraiser to help defray some expenses. We haven't actively brought this to everyone’s attention until now. We’re asking you to consider purchasing a bag or two (or even get on their periodic delivery program if you’re a coffee addict!). There are a variety of coffees. Most bags are around $13 (plus $5 shipping), and we get $5 for every bag purchased. Even if you’re not a coffee person, they can make great gifts.

If you're a prospective adoptive family, we think this is a great fundraiser because everyone either likes coffee or knows someone who likes coffee. I know it's less-than-perfect to pay around $17 for a bag of coffee (once shipping is included), but this is a fundraiser after all and I think friends and family will see it that way.

We don’t get a list of who purchases the coffee. Unless you tell us, we can’t see who orders so thank you in advance! Just know every order will be much appreciated!

04 March 2010

You Know It's a Long Road Trip When........

You know it's a long road trip when......

1. You don’t even time the stops when stopping for gas or food. You know that if the stop takes 6.25 minutes or 9.5 minutes, it really doesn’t matter.

2. You time the trip in states, tanks of gas, and days instead of miles and hours.

3. The idea of chartering a small cargo plane to take you, your car and stuff, and family sounds like a reasonable expense. This should really be #1.

4. You’re thankful that an 8-yr old dog who sleeps 98% of the trip is easier than a 2-yr old baby in a car seat........and you're envious of her space because she can actually stretch out and sleep during the trip.

5. You're grateful when a segment of the trip involves a timezone change. That way, you can pretend you're only in the car for 10 hours instead of 11.

6. There are so many bugs on the windshield that your camera focuses more on them than the passing scenery.

The boxes are still stacked throughout the house, but we're making slow progress. The social worker is coming Friday to see about our updating our Home Study. We remain somewhat optimistic and hope we don't have to redo the entire Home Study.

Long Road Trip......Make That Super-Long Road Trip

2,750 miles. That's the distance between Chesapeake VA to Chula Vista CA.
Five and a half days. That's the time we originally planned to tour America's heartland from VA to CA. Emphasis on "originally."

So how does one pack a wooden ship model into a car already crammed full of stuff? Very carefully. I'm grateful for our large cargo carrier on our roof rack.

Here's Chloe's expression from the back of the car - priceless. What makes this even more priceless is we're only an hour into a three and a half day drive! We have one day left on our journey, and we can't complain. This is the second cross-country drive we have survived with both of us in the car. We know we're very lucky, and the next tour of America's byways won't be this simple. Chloe (our 8-yr old dog) sleeps about 98% of the time, and we're pretty sure that a 2-yr old baby in a car seat will demand slightly more attention during a 2,700 mile trek in the car.

The good news is the driver of the moving company truck (actually an 18-wheeler) is a very nice gentleman and said we would be the first load off the truck in CA. The bad news is he will be at our new home on Friday or Saturday......not later the following week that we originally thought. Emphasis on "originally." I had planned a 5.5 day drive across country - allowing daylight driving and letting us get settled at the hotel at the end of each day before dinnertime. Trimming two days off a 2,700-mile-plus trip to make it in 3.5 days removes any sense of "leisure" from our journey.

Here's Chloe enjoying low windows from the hotel in Memphis, TN.

Alicia and Chloe relaxing after a long day on the road.

Next stop.....San Diego!